New here... don't know what to do.

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Rina, Mar 7, 2015.

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  1. Rina

    Rina Member

    First of all, I have to say it's a relief to find this forum! I feel better just by reading here.
    My situation: my son is 16 years old. We've recently discovered he's using drugs... basically anything he can get his hands on. Another thing we've found out is that there is a major heroin problem in our area... we live in a good suburb, and I really didn't think these things exist here...
    We don't think son has tried heroin so far, but I'm afraid that that's where he's headed.
    We are looking at a short term (3-4 months) rehab program for teens at a ranch in Utah. I'm so scared that he'll just come home and go back to using. Does anyone here have any experience with short term programs? For those of you who've had kids come home from rehab, what advice can you give on keeping them off drugs? What worked/didn't work for you?

    Again, I'm thakful for this forum, and I would definitely be grateful for any advice. I wish the best for you and your kids.
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Is he of legal age?

    I have not heard, from being here for a long time, that spending a ton on rehabs really helps anyone in the long term unless they are truly WANTING to quit. Don't put him there for YOU, do it for HIM if he asks for it and is desperate to quit. A rehab is not a guantee and you need to take care of yourself now and you deserve to keep your retirement.

    Call me jaded, but I've been on this forum a long time and most of us with older kids are in the process of trying to learn how to take care of ourselves in spite of having children who make self-destructive choices. We can't change them, only our reaction to them. Now if he is underage and you need respite and have the money, send him to Utah. Just don't expect miracles. If you get one, and I hope you do, then that's terrific. But usually if they quit drugs, it is because they want to do it...then it doesn't matter if they are in a rehab or on their own.

    Never discount that you and your other loved ones, who live right and respect you, are every bit as important as he is. Don't let him take up your entire life.

    When my daughter was ready to quit, she quit. Others DO quit in rehab...but that is because they are willing to do what they are told, it can and does help a certain percentage of those there. I think going to cheap funded program is just as good as spending your entire yearly salary to pay for private accomdations that may look better as far as setting goes, but doesn't really help any more than the publicly funded ones.

    Just my opinion. You take what you need and leave the rest.
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    Last edited: Mar 7, 2015
  3. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome Rina. I am on my way out of town for a few days but wanted to let you know I read your post. My suggestion is to do a lot of research before sending you son to any out of state program. If you have just discovered his drug use you may want to have him evaluated at a adolescent program connected with a hospital near you if possible.

    Can you provide more background info on whats been going on. How is his behavior and what are there any concerns about his academic progress? Has he been getting into trouble outside of the home. What are his friends like. How were you made aware of his drug use. Does he admit it?

    We have a big heroin problem in our community also, it is all around us, in every community with good parents and nice houses. I can understand your worry and it's good that you are being proactive. We have several neighbors who ignored the problem for too long.

    I'm glad you found out forum, we have many parents who have been through a lot of different experiences with our young adult children and there is nothing we haven't heard. We are all happy to help you in any way we can.
  4. lovemyson1

    lovemyson1 Active Member

    We just read that because weed has become legal the drug sellers are focusing on heroin to make their money. So yes, heroin is becoming very accessible! Having a son who has been addicted to heroin for over 3 years I will tell you that until they want to quit, they will lie, steal, manipulate and get their heroin. A program could help if he wants help. But if he doesn't want to change no program will help. My son changed when he realized he had nothing left but support from us to get clean. He's in a wonderful program that is faith based and he's clean and changed as of today. I hope your son hasn't used heroin yet, its very addicting. Watch for signs of burnt spoons, hallowed out pens, foil with black marks on it.. Do your homework, try to encourage him to do something positive with his life.. We are here for you!
  5. Rehab will only work if he wants to change. Our daugther has disowned us because we sent her to a place for a short time. My brother battled his addiction for years before he cleaned up on his own. I believe he was a in 2 different residential programs. 3-4 months will change nothing. You can do it in your home by supplying him only with food. You can remove basically everything from your home he can steal to finance his addiction and pay to store it somewhere and achieve a better result than any rehab program as long as he is not motivated to stop his drug use.

    There is a drug problem everywhere. But there are not users everywhere. Something triggered his addiction. Something you didn't notice. We didn't notice that a boyfriend we not even were aware off disrespected the boundaries our daugther had. She never used but she neglected her schooling. Perhaps the rehab can identify this but some rehabs rewards any confession with privileges so it can also just be a story told to achieve these privilges. You can investigate more freely while he is at home and start with some outpatient therapy.

    I would not hope for too much when he returns from the ranch. Especially not if he is going there without wanting to be clean. Start with an evaluation locally. Get him tested. Put the foot down and tell him that there are out of state programs and transport agents do exist who can be hired by you to sent him there. Then tell him that there is an option with local outpatient therapy he can use as long as he need but if things start go missing he better start packing for the next step.
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  6. Rina

    Rina Member

    Thank you guys so much for your replies!

    Some more background information:
    He's been a very normal, very calm child. He always got good grades, and had normal, sane friends. Things changed two years ago when we moved to a new town. His grades were more or less the same but he started spending time with a negative peer group. Looking back, all the warning signs were there, changes in peer group, changes in attitude/mood... We just chalked it up to him being a "typical teen". Couldn't have been more wrong :(
    We found out about his drug use after getting tipped off by his only remaining sane friend. Son confessed to the drug use although he doesn't think it's a problem.

    We took him to see an addiction psychologist who agreed that son's headed for some serious issues. He's actually the one who suggested a short-term program that could possibly shock him into getting his act together. Of at least get him to cooperate with outpatient treatment...

    I know it's his job in the end. But I feel like until he turns 18 it's my responsibility as a parent to force him into treatment.

    It's such a crazy situation. so afraid of making a mistake with this program but I feel that doing nothing could be worse.

    I just want my son to snap out of it :(
  7. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Hi Rina,
    Welcome to the Board.
    As you can see from my signature I have 2 son's who are addicts. One is in recovery...the other is not.

    Mine also revealed they had a drug problem after a move.
    husband and I had always wanted to live up in the mountains of Colorado...and 15 yrs later we were finally able to afford our dream home there and so we moved. Within the year that we lived there our son's started acting out...getting kicked off the school bus, sneaking out with other kids, poor grades etc. So after a year in our "dream home" I decided we should move back to where we came from in Texas. Unfortunately drug use followed us wherever we went with our son's.

    I found the Board while both of my son's were at drug rehab. Oldest son admitted to using Cocaine and younger son was found to be "huffing glade" by a neighbor...all in the same week! It was such a nightmare. Rehab said my oldest was in the greatest danger to himself and others as he was highly manipulative and didn't really want to work the program...only learned enough to use against others. After 6 months of treatment... Drug rehab wanted us to give him up to the State!
    Today, this son is taking it one day at a time. He owns his own business and has 3 beautiful daughters with a wife who is around 10 yrs older than him.

    Younger son...the one Drug Rehab gave us the most hope for...well, he is still in grips of addiction. 13 yrs later I still don't know when he will hit "bottom" and truly embrace sobriety.

    We tried many programs along the way: Rehab, hospitals, medications, jail, probation, clubs, various types of schools, even a "therapeutic wilderness program in Montana. A judge even went so far as to "guarantee" us a new son if we only sent him to this we did. After 9 days, this program was ready to send our son to Jamaica for a more "punitive" approach. We drove all the way from Texas to Montana and picked up our son! And of course, went to the judge and shared with him our experience.

    Younger son got married at 18...while oldest son was in prison for stealing over 10k worth of computer equip from husband's client while on Meth. Younger son said that he wanted to do better than his older brother. Meanwhile, younger son's new wife was pregnant with their first child.

    Unfortunately, younger son got kicked out of the Army primarily for his drug use. He came home and we housed the whole family...and then daughter in law became pregnant with second baby.

    Younger son always took an interest in the weather...since he was a little boy. LOL he would rather watch the Weather Channel at age 10 rather than cartoons. husband and I often commented that he would be an outstanding Meteorologist. But...addiction gets in the way of dreams. In any event...Younger son went with his wife to Amarillo Tx in search of a blizzard. He apparently also took pills and drank alcohol and ended up in the ER there. While in the ER he spit at two police officers and was taken to jail on a Felony charge for spitting. Eventually he ended up in prison after violating his probation for the spitting incident.

    After younger son got out of prison we allowed him to stay with us at our home. He had a job with his older brother's business and we also bought him a truck and allowed his wife and children over (now with a 3rd grandbaby).
    Things were going really well for about 6 weeks. Then...Younger son got drunk and proceeded to get into a fight with husband and told husband that he could "put whatever substances" he wants into his body. It was at that point that we began to prepare for him to move out of our home.

    He got a new job after oldest son had to let him go...His new job paid really well. He was on the road alot and apparently, according to his wife, sometime in November he used Meth. It wasn't long before he was fired.

    He does have a new job. He has lived with all the friends and family he could "use" during this time. He has burnt all of his bridges with people. So he is now homeless.

    I guess I said all of this to say this Rina...An addict will not stop using until they genuinely want help for themselves...crave help for themselves...even more than the drug!
    Not a move, not a guarantee from a judge, not the Army, not prison...not even 3 beautiful children are enough to make our son's "snap out of it". I wish...oh how I wish it were that easy.

    You are wise to seek help though while you can. I believe that every little bit of rehab, AA meetings, sobriety, does add up along the way. At least you know you have done all you can to provide resources that can help once your son is really ready for sobriety.

    But as you can see from my's a toss up. You never know what is going to work or when. As they say...It takes what it takes. My oldest does not want to give up what he has achieved...he craves sobriety.
    My youngest son does not want to give up his drug/alcohol use...his addiction rules the day!

    Try and remember that you didn't cause this and you can't control it. You can give your son tools to learn about his addiction problems and what he can do to help himself stay sober.
    Beyond that...It is up to him!
    I'm glad you found us.
  8. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Rina, My son starting using drugs at a young age. He has been in a lot of different programs includinng a wilderness program and a therapeutic boarding school. Its been almost 10 years and he still has a drug problem. He will use anything but he, as far as I know has not become a heroin addict.... and now at the age of 23 he is doing better.... although I know he drinks and probably smokes weed so he is not what I would call sober. And honestly I dont know if he is doing anything else.... but does have a job and is working and being more responsible than in the past.

    I do not regret all the programs we have had him in for a couple of reasons. One is I think he got something out of them although it did not solve the problem of drug use. And my son was always difficult and always had behavior issues.....I think there are kids who go to these programs, get the wake up call they need and turn things around.

    I think the other big thing is that at least being in these programs while he was young kept him sober for at least some of the time.... allowing that important brain development. I really believe if we had left things alone our son would probably be dead by now. So I think the programs delayed more serious drug use to an extent and gave him some sober time which is vital when they are young.

    So I agree with you.... while your son is under 18 you have to intervene if you can. Be prepared it might not work, but it may give him some tools for the future and give him some time sober.

    After they are 18 there is not much you can do.... and at some point you have to let them go to figure things out for themselves. That is where we are now.... I am no longer trying to intervene or steer my son on the right path... at this point I am just loving him. But he is now 23 and so the situation is different now.

    Good luck and keep posting to let us know how things are going.
  9. Rina

    Rina Member

    Again, thank you all so much for your replies. You have no idea how much I appreciate it.

    I think I'm beginning to understand, if not totally accept, the fact that this could either way. It's hard to think about it when I want this whole situation to be over. We're making the final arrangements tomorrow so that son will be able to start the program is a few days. We haven't told him yet... he thinks we're just making empty threats.

    I'm scared it'll all be for nothing. But, like toughlovin said, at the very least it could give his body some drug-free time. I know I will spend the time he's there panicking over what'll happen when he's back home (already started), but at least I'll know he's at a safe place.

    Again, thank you all.
  10. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Yes and when he is in a safe place, make sure you do what you can to take care of yourself, get some sleep so that you feel ready and stronger to deal with the next phase.
  11. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hello and welcome to the SA forum. I am sorry that you had to find us but glad that you did.

    I am going to look at this from a different perspective from some of the other posters. I wish that we had realized that there was a problem with my daughter and took action before we did. My daughter started using drugs around your son's age and we didn't realize the extent of the problem and also wrote it off to teenage rebellion. Now, thirteen years later my daughter is still in the grips of addiction and has moved on to very serious drugs including heroin.

    We also live in an affluent suburban neighborhood. If anything, there is a bigger drug problem in these kinds of areas since the kids have access to money to buy the drugs. There is no "safe" place where there is no access to drugs.

    However, I believe that getting your son away from the druggies that he is hanging out with is critical at this point. If this is early in his drug use, a three or four month program away from his friends may help him see what he is doing in a different light. I assume that he is covered by your insurance. If so, this is the time to take action. Do a lot of research, though, before you decide where to send him. There are very good rehabs and very bad rehabs. Call some of the interventionists in your area and ask their opinions. Contact more than one doctor that specializes in addiction and ask for some recommendations. I found out very quickly that the same names kept popping up and felt comfortable that they were recommended by more than one source.

    Yes, it is very possible that he will come back and begin using again. However, like TL said, I don't regret sending my daughter to a very expensive 3 month rehab (out of pocket because she didn't have insurance before Obamacare). She did relapse multiple times since then and has just been released from a 30-day residential treatment center (paid for this time by health insurance . . . thank you, President Obama) and several IOP's. I truly believe that each stay helps her a little bit and maybe one of these days she will want to be sober and use the tools that she has learned in treatment.

    I wish we had sent my daughter somewhere when she was still in her teens. Looking back, I would have sent her to live with relatives just to keep her away from her drug using friends. Yes, I know that they can find other substance abusers wherever they go but at least I would have known that we had tried everything.

    Carrol O'Conner had a son with a substance abuse problem. He once said to "Get between your kid and drugs, any way you can, if you want to save the kid's life". He also said on his son: "I should have spied on him. I should've taken away all his civil rights, spied on him, opened his mail, listened to telephone calls, everything."

    I certainly wouldn't just give up and wait until he was "ready" to quit using. Especially at his age when peer influence is so important.

    JMHO. . . .

    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
  12. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Oh, I didn't mean "give up." Now my daughter refused to get treatment and she could, so we had that ruled out. She did howerver get arrested twice and had to pretend to be trying.

    I just have seen no evidence that spending your entire retirement is any more effective than using less expensive resources to help our heading-in-the-wrong-direction drug users. Basically the methods are the same, the kids are the same (no matter what brand clothing they wear) and I've read about too many older parents who are now flat broke...with nothing to show for it. I do think it's smart to use the less expensive resources surrounding you.

    My daughter did not go to a rehab, but many of her (cough) "friends" did, either by parent's insistence or court mandate. All of them told her there were drugs there...that drug use went on. It was definitely harder to get drugs, but there were always people who managed. Only one of her many (cough) "friends" from the old days quit drugs. She no longer sees them but many have contacted her on FB, talking about their many kids that they never see and the many mothers/fathers of those kids, their jail/prison stays, and their parole. This is a classic middle class, apple pie, involved parents, some farms, some towns and small cities and lots of sports, outdoor fun, hunting and fishing, hiking, good schools...we have heroin here too. You can't run away from it.

    However, I originally missed that this kid is only sixteen and I do agree that you have to do all you can before they read that yukky legal age of eighteen so that, if nothing else, you know you tried your very best. But I would not spend every dime you have trying. There are many rehabs of differing prices and I always felt the ones that charged so much were not really any better than the ones for much, much less or for free. At any rate, I haven't seen a difference in results. Of course, they all CLAIM very high results. The stats don't bear that out. It is hard to quit drugs and there is almost always relapses before the end, if there is an end. My daughter relapsed many times before doing it. She had to leave the state and get away from her "friends" to get sober. She claims she was both pushed verbally by her peers and threatened physically to keep using. She needed a fresh start where nobody knew her. When she visits me, she is careful where she goes. Ten years later, she still doesn't want to run into any of them.

    I hope your son is one of th e kids who decides "This is too hard. I don't like this." My daughter said she hit rock bottom when she felt trapped with no way out and thought, "I can't live this life anymore. IT'S TOO HARD!" She had dealers threatening her life and that of all of her family, which terrified her, because she owed them money, but did not tell us. I don't know what we would have done if she had. It's not like they cared if the police dropped by and put them away for a few months, if they even did that.

    Sending warm, healing vibes to your still-very-young son. Hoping he hits his own rock bottom even before he goes so that he is motivated to get clean and dump his druggie friends. You know they've quit when they drop their druggie friends. You know they haven't when they haven't. I feel it is much better when they start younger (my daughter was 12) because that gives us parents more time to step in. My daughter also quit younger (19) so that her entire prime years were not messed up.

    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
  13. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think deciding what you are willing to spend on helping your child is a very personal decision. I don't understand the thinking that drug addiction is different than a loved one getting cancer. As I explained at the time, if someone had told me that there was a 20% chance of curing my child's cancer, I wouldn't have given a second thought to spending whatever I had to give her that chance. I also don't think anyone would have said to wait and think about my retirement.

    However, when it comes to addiction, people say it would be a waste of money to take a chance like that when they will probably relapse. I don't get the difference.

    You also need to remember that my daughter didn't have health insurance at the time and had overdosed on heroin on our couch. My husband and I were willing to do anything to help her.

    I will never regret spending that money. I know that in my heart of hearts, I did everything I could to help my daughter. Now it is up to her to use the tools that she was taught.

    Luckily for all of us, that no longer needs to be a decision that you need to make. The Affordable Care Act makes it possible for everyone to have insurance. For $188 a month (which we pay), my daughter has a $500 out of pocket maximum. She passed that very quickly and all of her IOP and inpatient treatment has been covered 100% and will be for the rest of the year.

    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
  14. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    Because more and more, since people have been spending their future retirement money on their adult children (this includes even student loans) as people age they are looking at having a cat-food retirement. While it is easy to think "I'll help today" there may not be a way to make up that financial loss later in life - (talking accrued interest).

    Any financial adviser would tell you the same thing about spending money for any purpose on adult children. It's reality. Using your example you are gambling your future retirement against 80% odds that your daughter will relapse. My ex-husbands father taught me this years ago (as I am a gentle heart-ed person) "If you try to live on love you probably will starve to death." If your gentle heart feels it is OK to spend money on your Difficult Child, that is your choice, but for other people, myself included, we do what the financial experts advise - put our own retirement first - as we live in the reality that our adult children aren't able to be there in the future when we are old, and may need help. We are going to need that money to take care of ourselves.
  15. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    When you look for programs, be careful and do your homework. There are lots of rotten apples out there that are in it to scam parents money while giving kids substandard treatment, education and in some cases even harmful or dangerous or in worst cases potentially deadly 'treatment.'

    Be careful for inflated promises, check what they tell from third party and be aware that many try to make the stay look much shorter first and later keep telling you that your kid needs longer term there.

    There are of course also good programs, but be aware that not every program is what they try to show you. I think this site is something that one should read before committing sending a kid far away and paying lots of money to some program:
  16. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    First of all, my husband and I did not spend all of our retirement money. We have a very sound financial plan for our retirement. I did make the decision to work two years longer in order to pay for her treatment. It was the right thing for us and might be the right decision for others. My point was it is a personal decision that should not be criticized by anonymous posters and I certainly don't need financial advice.

    I also noticed that you conveniently cut off the part of my post where I was referring to cancer when I mentioned the 80%/20% split. If you are going to quote me. please make sure that you are using a representative quote to what I actually said. I was talking about a 20% chance that the cancer would go into remission.

    My point was that if you were told that there was an experimental treatment for cancer that might save your child would you really have that cold-hearted conversation on whether it is worth your retirement or not? Would you say, "I'm sorry, honey, we weighed the odds and we just don't want to give up our comfortable retirement so we are going with the 80% chance that you will die anyway?"

    It seems like many people still think people with addictions are not worth saving or at least spending money on. And yes, 2m2r, it was worth that 20% chance for me in this situation. We had just found our daughter unresponsive on the couch after a heroin overdose.

    I am very aware that many people have spent their life savings and may regret doing so. I also know of people who spent a lot of money whose children went into recovery and they are very glad that they spent that money. I never said that people should give up their entire life savings but if they have the resources and want to spend it on treatment for their children, even adult children, it is their decision to make.

    Hopefully, this is a moot point now. My husband and I were forced into that decision because my daughter did not have health insurance at that time. Thankfully, as long as the ACA is not dismantled by the Supreme Court, we and other families will not have to make those kind of financial decisions in the future.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
  17. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Rina, I am very sorry that your thread was hijacked. As you can see, there are a lot of different opinions about the right thing to do. The wonderful thing about this board is that we have all had different experiences and no one has the one and only right answer.

    So we all share our journeys and you can take what works for you and ignore the rest. We will support your decisions and try to be a soft place to land.

    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
  18. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    Cancer is not the same as addictions as nobody with cancer chooses to inject, smoke or otherwise introduce toxic substances into their bodies. You said it yourself - you were willing to work the extra years to make up for the expense of treatment. Sadly for the majority of people that is not an option.
  19. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Hello again Rina,
    Just wanted to add that it is SO VERY IMPORTANT that you get as much support for yourself as possible. If you haven't checked into Al Anon meetings near you...while your son is in the rehab program may be a good time to do so.

    My dear husband, who is by the way, a very strong man...recently suffered a heart attack and within the last 8 yrs I also had a mental/emotional breakdown. We are not even 50 yrs old yet!

    The pain and stress from caring for our addicted children can take it's toll on our health. Please be good to you! You may find that you need as much support as your son.

  20. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    I am so sorry to hear this. Maybe, what I am saying about retirement has more to do with this. Addiction is hard on the whole family. When money is limited,
    we must take care of ourselves first. Even in an airplane they tell you to put on your own oxygen first. I also bring it up because during the acute anxiety phase, when we are most worried about our Difficult Child's is when we are most likely to make irrational, long standing, financial decisions. It is up to each family to look at heir families complete financial picture before spending large amounts of money on an iffy proposition.
    I do hope the original poster is able to find an affordable placement to help her son. I do find it despicable that in this country, while it screams and shouts about drugs and addiction, offers so few resources to families dealing with not only addiction issues but mental health issues as well. People shouldn't have to put themselves in financial harm to afford treatment for their children with these issues.

    Again, the reason money is being brought into it is just food for thought, and no meant to disparage anyone who makes the choice to spend money on their children for whatever the issue is. Lord knows I made a huge mistake financially with my own Difficult Child (not on this subject, addiction) that affected my disability income forever and that is why I may more acutely aware of the consequences of spending money on our Difficult Child's vs disability/retirement.
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